AUGUSTA — Firefighters from eight towns around Augusta helped the Augusta Fire Department knock down a fire at the Hatch Hill landfill overnight.

Battalion Chief Jason Farris said a LifeFlight helicopter crew member reported seeing a woods fire somewhere in the vicinity of Cony High School and Togus Pond.

“It’s a very big area,” Farris said. “If it was a woods fire, it wouldn’t gain very much traction overnight.”

Initially, he said, the Fire Department notified the Police Department to help narrow down the location, and officers started looking around 2:30 a.m. The first fire truck was dispatched to the landfill shortly after 3 a.m.

Farris estimated the fire was about 3 acres, and about a dozen Augusta firefighters worked to extinguish the fire for about six hours. He said it’s one of the larger fires at the landfill that he has seen.

Because of the landfill’s location, firefighters and fire trucks from Vassalboro, Belgrade, Windsor, Whitefield, Pittston, West Gardiner and Sidney set up a relay to bring water from a hydrant 2 miles away to a dump tank, where a tanker from Chelsea linked to Augusta’s primary pumper to get water on the fire.

Augusta Public Works Director Leslie Jones said Saturday that sometimes the rubbish the landfill takes in might contain chemicals that are flammable if they interact with other substances, or it might contain ashes believed to be cold but are still capable of igniting a fire.

“If there’s a little wind, or if they are not totally covered, it can start a fire,” she said.

Sometimes fires break out during the day, Jones said, and in that case landfill workers will smother it with a bucket of dirt.

In this instance, she said, the landfill had been closed for nearly 12 hours when the fire was discovered.

The cause of the fire is not known.

“There’s no indication from looking at where it started and the burn pattern that anyone started it,” he said. “Yesterday was extremely dry and windy.”

During the fire, Farris said a second alarm was called to bring in another shift of firefighters to respond to emergency calls in the city.

Jones said about a half-dozen landfill workers were called in later Saturday morning to haul in some truckloads of dirt from Swan Construction in Windsor to spread over the area of the fire.

The landfill remained open for business Saturday.

“People should be aware of throwing chemicals out,” she said.

They can present a health hazard as well as a fire hazard, and heat can also cause fires to ignite.

“People aren’t supposed to smoke when they are up there,” she said.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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